Wednesday Breakfast with Tim and Mike: Was it right for Stafford to take the blame for loss at AZ?

Posted Dec 19, 2012

"It was the right thing for Stafford to do because everyone looks to the quarterback for leadership, but it wasn’t necessarily accurate that he was responsible for the loss."

Was it right for Matthew Stafford to take the blame for the loss to the Cardinals, and is there any impact going into Saturday night’s game against the Falcons?

Mike: It was the right thing for Stafford to do because everyone looks to the quarterback for leadership, but it wasn’t necessarily accurate that he was responsible for the loss.

There isn’t a player or a play that causes a 38-10 loss. A lot of other things went wrong in that game, including a muffed punt by Stefan Logan when a teammate got blocked into him as he was fielding the ball.

On the whole, there was an overall lack of energy in the game, and that had to be as disappointing as anything.

Do you think there will be change Saturday night?

Tim: Stafford will come out as determined as ever to put on a show on national television, but I fear he won’t be well-enough equipped to bounce back in a major way. He got absolutely no help from any pass catcher outside of Calvin Johnson in last week's loss. There was no separation and guys were dropping the football when they did get open.

Stafford threw three bad interceptions, and deserves his share of the blame for the loss, but I agree that it’s a team game and there was plenty of that to go around.

Unfortunately, the Lions have lost too many games this year in too many different ways.

I don’t worry about Stafford bouncing back Saturday as much as I do the other guys being able to step up and help him out.

Calvin Johnson can’t continue to do it all himself, can he?

Mike: He has, and he can. Who else would you throw the ball to with any confidence?

Teams have tried everything to stop him, and they can’t. It’s like the old Jordan Rules that the Pistons employed against Michael Jordan and the Hack-a-Shaq against Shaquille O’Neal more recently.

Calvin gets double-teamed at the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field in a way I’ve never seen before. He also gets bumped and held constantly. If there was a way to give a football player an intentional walk, teams would do it.

Through it all, Stafford keeps throwing to him, and Calvin is making catches and gaining yards.

How would this be for a double that even Jerry Rice couldn’t pull off when he set the record for receiving yards in 1995: leading the league in catches and yards?

Tim: It certainly could make Week 17 very interesting when the Lions host the Bears to end the season.

As it stands right now, Johnson has 106 receptions, which is one behind Bears receiver Brandon Marshall (107). Not only could Johnson be on track to beat Rice’s record vs. Bears, but he will also be going head-to-head with Marshall for the receptions title.

Get the receptions meters ready.

In 1996, the Lions played at San Francisco the final game of the regular season when Rice and Herman Moore were fighting for the receptions title. When the Lions’ last drive stalled on fourth down, Rice celebrated with quarterback Steve Young on the sidelines.  Rice finished with 108 catches to Moore’s 106. Looks like we could have a similar scenario at Ford Field Dec. 30.

You’ve covered both players in a long career, Mike, who would you take in their prime? Rice or Johnson?

Mike: It’s hard not to say Rice, because his prime lasted almost his entire 20-year career.

Rice was a more precise route-runner, and no receiver ever took a two-yard slant and turned it into a 60-yard TD the way Rice did. He had quickness and leverage, and the defender couldn’t get near him.

But for sheer dominating athletic talent, there’s never been a receiver like Calvin Johnson. It’s the whole package of size, speed, body control, explosion, and hands.

Put it this way, if Calvin Johnson had come along before Takara Tomy created the Megatron character, then Optimus Prime’s arch-nemesis would have been named Calvin Johnson.

I’d take either one, Calvin or Rice, and never regret it. Does that make me a wimp?

Tim: Total wimp. You make the Cowardly Lion seem down right rough right now.

I, too, think it’s a close call, but Rice did it so well for so long that he has to be the guy. Best pair of hands I’ve seen.

Okay, Mike, you can’t cop out of this one. Who wins Saturday? Don’t give me any crud about a tie, either. I know you like those scenarios (that's an inside joke for the readers).

Mike: Don’t make fun of the Cowardly Lion. Bert Lahr played that role, and the costume he wore sold for $3 million at auction. And you know my wardrobe is priceless.

It’s hard to pick the Lions in this game. From their perspective, you'd like to think that they’ll get off the mat from last week’s whipping and land some haymakers, but they look like a team that’s run out of players at key spots and motivation.

Old saying: you can’t cook with cold grease. The Lions have to get the fire raging if they’re going to win.